Progress with mbeddr's C++


In order to prove the extensibility of mbeddr, and to support customer interest we have been working for some time on building a C++ support for mbeddr. In September 2013, a Master’s Thesis has been defended by Zaur Molotnikov (advisors: Markus Völter, Daniel Ratiu; supervisor: Bernhard Schätz), which addressed the research question of whether mbeddr’s extensibility can accommodate C++. The goals were to explore mbeddr’s and MPS’s extension points, and to define a restricted version of C++ that improves safety, similar to what mbeddr does with C. The Z++ programming language (aka Projectional C++ or C++ for mbeddr) was born. Back then it was a rather prototypical language, and it was not maintained.

In early 2014, Sioux decided to explore the use of Z++ in an industrial context. Developers at itemis, Sioux, JetBrains and Fortiss worked jointly on the development of Z++. In particular, Zaur has spent the last week at Sioux, working on Z++ with Eugen Schindler, Klemens Schindler and Remi Bosman to migrate it to the newer current versions of MPS/mbeddr and to improve it generally. One of the major issues turned to be GenericDotExpression. Using this concept it is amazingly easy to create notations with dots, such as MyClass.helloWorld(). The only thing the language developer must do is implement the IGenericDotTarget interface to represent the code after the dot! Using the GenericDotExpression in Z++ turned out to reduce the code base significantly.

Z++ template support has always been tricky. We improved it at Sioux, making the overall design cleaner, and reducing the code base. A simple C++ example project was investigated that made use of templates and dynamic polymorphism. By the end of the day, it worked well: it was implemented and compiled by Z++.

In addition, several bugs have been discovered and fixed, including some curious C++ language quirks. Despite the progress, Z++ does not (yet) represent the complete C++, but it can already be useful, for example as a generation target. We encourage you to check it out at Sioux, Fortiss, JetBrains and itemis will continue to work on it in the coming months.

To install the latest mbeddr, with which Z++ works, please, follow the instructions on fortiss'es web site.